Path Home Shows 2009 Show Archive May 2009 Show 0921 Green Hospital

Green Hospital

A newly opened hospital in Muskogee, Okla., could well be the greenest health care facility in the United States, and one that could also be a guide for health care facilities across our nation.
Green Hospital

A green hospital

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Muskogee Community Hospital

Show Dates

Show 0921: Green Hospital

Air date: May 24, 2009



Rob: A newly opened hospital in Muskogee, Okla., could well be the greenest health care facility in the U.S., an environmental accomplishment for sure, but one that could also be a guide for health care facilities across our nation.

Mark Roberts: For example, our floor’s cork, it’s a rapidly renewable product, and that allows us to have both a very soft setting in here because this is the family waiting area.

Rob: From the floors below, to the lights above, Muskogee Community Hospital is a model of energy efficiency. Hospital president Mark Roberts.

Roberts: And it’s green. And we weren’t stupid with green, in the sense that we didn’t do things that didn’t make sense, and if they didn’t benefit the patient, then we didn’t do it. A great example would be the stains we used on our wood. The stain was over a hundred dollars a quart. And you sit there and go, why would I want to spend that kind of money? But when you start figuring out that it doesn’t have the VOCs in it, so it doesn’t have the odor, then you figure out as you sit in this hospital that there are no odors from our glues in our carpets, there’s no odors from the varnishes on the walls, there’s no formaldehyde-added formaldehydes in the doors. So what happens is we have a building that is clean of smell, and a lot of people that come into a hospital have respiratory issues.

Rob: A patient-first philosophy in a hospital owned and operated by its doctors. Let’s step inside the OR here.

Dr. Ron Stevens: Well this is the health care model for rural America.

Rob: Well, Dr. Ron Stevens, along with other area physicians, invested in the green technology for the 10,000-square-foot facility because they believe it would be better for the patients and the community.

Stevens: Rural America consists of hospitals that are kind of like I am. They’re old. They’re decrepit. They need a little bit of work. They need upgrade. They need improvement. And hospitals are so important to rural communities. With a hospital, you can draw things in. Business, business wants good health care, good schools and a place, some sort of infrastructure. A hospital can anchor that. In rural America, if you will take a physician driven, give physicians control, partner with the community, sprinkle in a little bit of tax incentive, which is what happened here, then you can have something like this.

Rob: According to the U.S. Green Building Council, studies indicate an initial 2 percent investment to go green can yield 10 times that amount in savings during the life cycle of a building.

Roberts: The EPA has given us an award, first time ever that anybody’s ever earned this. It’s an Energy Star Design award, and we got it for being the first in a hospital, and we got it for being the first in the whole health care industry. We are told by them that we are the most energy efficient hospital in North America.

Rob: Now even with a myriad of cost saving methods employed here, the largest cost saver may not be inside the hospital, but below it. Underneath the hospital are 280 wells drilled 300 feet deep. Using a geothermal heat pump, the hospital pumps water through 35 miles of pipes all underground to heat and cool the facility.

Roberts: The earth becomes our radiator. We, if we are dissipating heat in the summer, then it heats the water, the water goes back in the ground, the ground cools it, brings it back up, we pull the cold out of it and turn it into hot again, and then in the winter, it reverses.

Rob: Reducing the facility's cooling cost by 40 percent, and its estimated heating bill by an estimated 90 percent.

By going with geothermal, and going the efficiencies that we went on our light systems in the hospital and using LED where we could, we are told through a study the EPA did that our energy savings will be 24 percent over a normal hospital.

Rob: A savings Roberts says will make this 45-bed hospital the most efficient in the nation.

Roberts: Everyone says, ‘You know I’d like to go green, but I can’t afford to.’ We were able to be smart about it and going green didn’t cost us more. It just caused us to think a different way.